The best niche genres rising up in gaming

By William Davis

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Nov 22, 2023

Reading time: 4 min

The list of best-selling video games in the world covers a surprisingly wide range of genres, platforms, and themes. There are sandbox games like Minecraft, classic puzzles like Tetris, and plenty of action adventures from open-world romps like GTA V to battle royales like PUBG.

Still, in terms of all-time best-sellers, there’s plenty of gaming content that doesn’t make the list. There have always been fringe interests in gaming, attracting audiences of just a few dozen to millions of gamers. For decades, video games have diversified, branching out into new subgenres and expanding the medium. As the global gaming industry expands along with the number of gamers, so will these niche genres. 

If you want to learn more about the lesser-known part of the gaming world, we’ve put together a list of five niche game genres to check out.

Wargames

Just like the first physical slot machines, wargames have been around for well over a century. In fact, they were originally used to train future military commanders. Today, the genre has nearly fallen entirely out of public view. However, a dedicated group of gamers has kept the scene alive, with a few IPs even breaking into the popular consciousness.

40k Chaos Marines

Warhammer 40,000 is a strategy tabletop wargame that tasks players with commanding sci-fi armies against each other. Today, there’s a digital version that includes various unique sub-communities. Wargames like Warhammer are all about real-time analytics, tactical and operational skills, and taking on unforeseen challenges. Today, games like Ultimate General and Tabletop Simulator have kept the genre alive.

Gacha

Gacha games are a growing part of the F2P trend. They first took off in Japan in the early 2010s and have since become a globally-recognized phenomenon. Most gacha games are RPGs that infuse a subgenre, such as Genshin Impact’s open world versus Arknights’s tower defense.

The core essence of a gacha game is its use of randomization. In Japanese, gacha is a type of toy vending machine. A similar type of system is used in gacha games to provide players with in-game items. These might be aesthetic or purpose-driven, such as a skin, weapon, or entire character. Gacha really just refers to the randomized real-world money system, and gachas can be any type of game. 

Casino slots

Slots are the world’s favorite casino game. As video games have gotten more popular, the line between gamers and gamblers has grown thin. This has led casinos, both physical and digital, to offer more types of slots than any other game. They offer a straightforward setup that makes them uniquely approachable, just like many casual games. Second, they’re designed to entertain different types of gamers with dozens of themes and designs. 

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Some games offer graphical tie-ins with popular media, like movies and television. Others like Sweet Bonanza provide a cute and familiar set of images designed to appeal a little bit to just about anyone. The combination of visual entertainment and real-money stakes has many gamers hooked, and the audience is always demanding innovation from the growing industry.

Asymmetrical horror

Horror has been around in gaming for decades. From Doom to Resident Evil, gamers have been looking for scares ever since the creation of the medium. However, there’s a new type of horror game emerging that flips the original genre on its head. Asymmetrical horror games pit a group of players against a single monster. The twist is that the monster is also controlled by a human.

In these types of games, players aren’t attempting to survive terrifying scenarios or predict the next big jump scare. Instead, they put players into the shoes of the monster. The competitive nature of these games combined with the switch between predator and prey make these games appeal to gamers with a taste of novelty. Dead by Daylight first took on this perspective back in 2016, while Friday the 13th: The Game took things to a much more elaborate level with its 2017 release.

DCCGs

Just like slots and wargames, the concept of collectible card games is nothing new to the gaming genre. From Magic: The Gathering to Pokemon, physical collectibles remain hugely popular. However, as more card games went digital, the genre quickly turned into a medium all its own.

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As titles like Hearthstone, Gwent, and Legends of Runeterra started taking off, DCCGs quickly transformed and adapted to the esports craze. The obvious reason is that virtual platforms allow players to access large pools of competitors—something a traditional CCG player has to travel for. The digital nature of these games also allows for mechanics that would be impossible with physical cards, such as the random elements of Hearthstone or the balance patches of Magic: The Gathering Arena.

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